Lying liars lie. My mother was a compulsive liar. What else she was, I have no idea. She had some symptoms of being a narcissist. She had some symptoms of being a sociopath. She had some symptoms of several different personality disorders. The main thing I remember about her is the lies.
As I got older what freaked me out the most was that her eyes never changed when she lied. I suck at lying because my face and my eyes always give me away. Much of that is probably because I am so scared of turning out to be like her. When I exhibit any tendencies that might be like hers, I feel horrible and on the edge of panic.
She would look me in the eyes and lie right to my face without any change of expression. Because some of the things she would lie about where things I had witnessed or experienced, she must have known that I knew she was lying. She did not seem to care that I knew it was bullshit. I’m not certain that she was even able to distinguish between her lies and the truth.
The lying issue had three thorny branches.
Lying to Everyone
My entire life is a lie that she perpetuated. My identity was destroyed when I was 16 and found out that she had lied about it all. I don’t think I ever recovered from that.
I was not the only one she lied to. During my own time of discovery, she told me that two of her kids were adopted and didn’t know. I didn’t really believe that until after she died. While going through her things, I discovered a sister’s birth certificate that did not look right. Instead of a parent signing the bottom, it was signed by a social worker. It also listed her birth hospital at a location quite a distance from where they were living at the time.
None of that is proof. But she told stories all the time where she tried to portray herself as some kind of supermom. If there had been some sort of emergency that had forced her to give birth in that hospital, it is unimaginable that she would not have mentioned that. We would have heard the story at least 500 times. With her heroism or suffering getting magnified with each retelling.
Instead — — crickets.
Even more telling is the fact that her four older kids would have ranged from 4 to 12 at that time and not one recalls or is willing to recall the sudden arrival of an infant without a pregnancy.
The next year she gave birth to another sister and it was in the hospital right near where they were living. We’ve heard the story about how she went out with some friends about a month before that baby was born and they all thought she had miscarried because she was “so thin,” about a million times.
Yet no pregnancy stories or comments from children who should have been old enough to notice that there was a new baby that just showed up one day.
That is some professional-level gaslighting right there.
Lying About Me
This one I know is very common among children of narcissists, which is why I say she has some symptoms of that particular personality disorder.
She would lie about me to others. And not bad lies. She would lie to make me sound better than I was. She would even do it when I was standing right next to her.
Whatever someone else’s kid was doing, I had to be doing something better. But she was too lazy to actually push me to do those better things. She would just lie and tell them that I was.
She would lie about my grades. She would lie about my extracurriculars. She would lie about my dating. Anything and everything.
With that as my reality, I learned very early to never take her word for anything. I’m sure she lied about other relatives and people just like she lied about me.
Believing I Was a Liar Just Like Her
Because she was so economical with the truth, she saw liars everywhere. She hated men (after 2 divorces) and was constantly going on about what liars they all are.
If anyone disagreed with her, they were lying.
Early on, I learned that she thought I was just as big a liar as she was. When I was young, my mother worked the graveyard shift and my care often fell to one of my brother’s girlfriends and her family. She would drive me to school in the morning when neither my mother or brother we able to. I was often left at her family’s house when she was out.
The girlfriend did drugs. She and her sisters would light up while driving me around. They passed bags of stuff in front of me.
Once when she was driving me to school she drove off an embankment. Then backed the car up and kept driving. One time when it was pouring rain, we drove under a bridge and water splashed the windshield. She screamed, let go of the wheel, and covered her head. We swerved all over the wet road.
Being at her house with her family was no better. Her brother was violent and I heard him hit his wife. Her father kept a gun in the nightstand and her nephew brought it out and showed it to me several times. One of their adult male relatives asked me questions about my vagina that he should not have been asking a 7-year-old.
I was an elementary school-aged kid and one of the big things you learn at that age is that nobody likes a tattletale. I did not want to tell my family what was going on. I just kept telling them I didn’t like her and didn’t like going there.
When I finally could not take it anymore and told my mother what was going on, she called me a liar. She said I was making it all up so I didn’t have to go there anymore.
It was clear from an early age that the only person looking out for me was me.
What That Does to a Kid
That childhood is the root of my depression and anxiety. I struggle with trust. I struggle with any kind of dishonesty, even little white lies that grease the social wheels. I cannot recall a time I ever truly felt safe.
The safety thing is a wash. I’ve given up on ever getting past that one. But all is not lost.
I have just had to work harder at things that come more easily to many people. I’ve had to learn canned noncommittal responses that I can use when being honest would be too mean or rude. I’m still working on learning to keep a more neutral face. I have resting bitch face.
Trust is a bit trickier. It takes me a long time to let my guard down and trust, but it’s not impossible. It is just a matter of finding the people who think I am worth the extra effort. My late boyfriend was one of those people, but it took him over a decade to get past my walls. I don’t think I will ever find someone else who thinks I’m worth that kind of effort.
Lying to and about a child is a form of emotional abuse. It puts them in a situation where they feel nobody, including themselves, can be trusted.